10/12/2008 - 22:00

Airlines set to make a call on phones

10/12/2008 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

IT seems one of the final sanctuaries from that ubiquitous modern-day technological wonder, the mobile phone, is about to be breached as airlines operating within Australia consider allowing the full-blown use of in-flight connectivity.

Airlines set to make a call on phones

IT seems one of the final sanctuaries from that ubiquitous modern-day technological wonder, the mobile phone, is about to be breached as airlines operating within Australia consider allowing the full-blown use of in-flight connectivity.

Everyone who has travelled on a domestic or international flight during the past decade has witnessed the end-of-flight clamour to re-activate personal mobile phones that have been switched off for the duration of the trip.

But this may soon end, with government regulators edging closer to permitting in-flight mobile services and wireless internet capability.

There are indications that by early next year passengers could be able to access emails on a laptop or Blackberry, send and receive SMS and MMS messages, and even make and take phone calls.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is proposing to amend mobile phone jammer laws to permit the use of pico cell technology used by in-flight mobile phone systems.

The ACMA has facilitated testing of the system over a period of nine months with great success and no interference complaints lodged.

ACMA manager regulatory development, Mark McGregor, is currently working through a number of submissions from the public about amending these laws to allow mobile and internet use during flights.

"There are lots of decisions to be made by the authority on this and we are currently assessing submissions and hope to have made a decision in the very near future," Mr McGregor said.

But is this an opportunity for enhanced business operations and improved personal relations, or an imposition on one of the last bastions of peace and quiet, away from mobile phone chatter?

Dubai-based airline Emirates was the first cab off the rank, allowing passengers to make calls and send SMS text messages via their mobile phones during flights.

Emirates Airline vice-president Australia, Stephen Pearse, said his company invested $US27 million to fit its fleet with the equipment supplied by AeroMobile, the pioneering provider of in-flight mobile services.

"We have received positive feedback since the in-flight mobile service first launched, with between 40 to 60 per cent of passengers switching on their phones on flights where the service is available," Mr Pearse said.

"More than 6,000 calls a month were already being made from our in-seat phones, and research has shown us that our customers appreciate the option of staying in touch in this way.''

Virgin Blue spokesperson Amanda Bolger said her airline had no immediate plans to allow mobile use on any of its domestic flights.

"V Australia, our international carrier launching in February next year, will have Blackberry access and SMS available, but not calls," Ms Bolger told Business Class.

"It's a catch 22 because it depends on what the people want. Some people want connectivity, others don't want the chatter."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options